Food as the new rock ‘n’ roll

Odd and questionable–but unintentionally amusing–cultural commentary from Chris Richards in the Washington Post:

Over the past decade, we’ve seen the rise of the foodie class and decline of the record industry. Are the two related? When did we start talking about new food trucks instead of new bands?. . . .

Today’s gastronomical adventures provide the thrills that rock-and-roll used to. New restaurants appeal to our sense of discovery. Our diets can reflect our identities, our politics. For fans of thrash metal and/or live octopus sashimi, food is a way to sate cravings for the maximal, visceral and extreme.

And above all, unlike music, food provides a sensual pleasure that can’t be transmitted digitally. We can’t download a banh mi.

“Cuisine exists in a cultural realm where people can engage in status displays,” says Kyle Rees, communications manager at the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. “And status items are things that aren’t easily obtained. So if everyone can get music, it loses that value. . . . And the millennial generation, they’re willing to drop the better part of their already low salaries on new food experiences.” . . .

Although it remains tricky to directly connect those two arcs, it still feels like cuisine is stealing music’s role in helping young people forge and declare an identity.

“Food is not just sustenance anymore,” says California food writer Zach Brooks. “It can offer a point of view. It can be super political in a time when music seems to be getting less and less political. What you eat says a lot about what you believe in, whether it’s sustainable farming or GMOs.”

Brooks so ardently believes that food is the new rock, he created a podcast called “Food Is the New Rock” a couple of years back. His first guest was Jonathan Gold, now the Los Angeles Times food critic whose trailblazing gastro-curiosity echoes work he once did as a music journalist, penning profiles of Slayer and N.W.A. “Today, when I write about eating pig uterus tacos, [readers] aren’t disgusted by it, they’re intrigued by it,” says Gold, whose sterling criticism won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007.

“A lot of what we used to associate with music — it being an indicator of tribalism — I think we’re seeing that more in food these days, instead,” Gold says.”If you’re vegan, or a conscious omnivore, or nose-to-tail person, or a gluten-free person — those people get together and self-identify.”

Meantime, many players in today’s burgeoning cuisine culture — chefs, critics, restaurateurs, bloggers — can self-identify as “former music people.” Gold and Starr are just two big names in the mass exodus from rockland to foodland, a migration that has done plenty to help chisel a phrase into our collective marble: “Chefs are the new rock stars.”

via - The Washington Post.

First of all, the actual young people who drive the popular music industry are hardly “foodies.”  From what I can tell, they are mostly eating McDonald’s and Taco Flavored Doritos rather than live octopus or pig uterus.  I suspect this phenomenon of replacing music with food, if it is a phenomenon, is limited to young urban single professionals in their 20′s and 30′s.  That is, to people who used to be way into fashionable contemporary  music but have outgrown it.  Eating at cool restaurants is a social activity, as music used to be but perhaps is now not so much in the age of ear-pods.  Those who use food or music as status markers are serious about neither.

Anyway, I suspect some of you readers are in these demographics.  Is the article on to something?  If any of you are “foodies,” does this article in any way account for your interest?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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